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Awards for outstanding wildlife landowners and tree farmers presented at state fair     Send a link to a friend

[AUG. 23, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold announced earlier this month that Donald and Susan Meador of Larnark are the Illinois Wildlife Landowners of the Year, while Rollie and Lois Spaniol of Charleston are the Illinois Outstanding Tree Farmers for 2004.

"In presenting these awards each year to landowners committed to improving their natural habitat, we offer congratulations to the winners and encouragement to other landowners," Brunsvold said. "The award program highlights outstanding accomplishments of individual landowners in improving wildlife habitat, enhancing forests and protecting the investments they have made in their property."

The statewide awards for the Illinois Wildlife Landowner of the Year and the Illinois Outstanding Tree Farmer were presented during Agriculture Day activities on Aug. 17 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

Illinois Wildlife Landowners of the Year for 2004

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has selected Don and Susan Meador of Larnark as the recipients of this year's Illinois Wildlife Landowner of the Year award. The Meador family has been farming in rural Carroll County since the early 1940s.

In 1962 Don Meador took over the family farm operation, which at one time included more than 900 acres of cropland. Having been born and raised in Carroll County, Don Meador witnessed firsthand the transformation of the traditional smaller, diverse farming operations to large, intensively managed corn and soybean farms of today.

"Each year there were fewer and fewer fence rows, pastures and set-aside acres that I knew wildlife needed. When the farm next to ours changed hands and the new owner dozed out a windbreak that I helped plant as boy, I knew I needed to do something," said Don Meador.

The Meadors first started working with Department of Natural Resources staff in 1999, when Don signed up about 70 acres into the federal Conservation Reserve Program. Filter strips, field border strips, windbreaks, shrub thickets and food plots were established, as well as one farm pond and one shallow water wetland.

At the same time, Don Meador got involved with the Carroll County chapter of Pheasants Forever and soon thereafter took on duties as the group's habitat chairman.

"Don's working knowledge of farmland management, plant communities, farming equipment and other farm operators in the county has greatly enhanced both Pheasants Forever's and the DNR's habitat efforts," said Scott Schaeffer, the Department of Natural Resources district wildlife biologist who nominated the Meadors for the award. "Don and Susan graciously share their farm with other landowners interested in establishing wildlife habitat. We run our seed, planters and other equipment out of Don's farm, making it easy for landowners during the busy spring planting season to get the help they need."

The Meadors added an additional 54 acres of habitat last spring, highlighted by three additional shallow water wetlands that Don engineered and constructed.


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Illinois Outstanding Tree Farmers for 2004

Rollie and Lois Spaniol of Charleston are recognized as the Illinois Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year for outstanding management of the forest resources at their Coles County tree farm and for many years of outreach with other landowners and the public in encouraging land conservation efforts. Rollie Spaniol makes very clear that when it comes to his tree farm, "I like to show it off."

Rollie Spaniol retired from Eastern Illinois University, capping a 38-year teaching career, but has continued educating other landowners about the benefits of being good land stewards. He has been an active member and president of the local Lincoln Heritage RC&D conservation and development organization, along with the Coles County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Embarrass River Management Association and the Illinois Walnut Council. The Spaniols host meetings on farm stewardship and forest resources, welcoming school and community groups to their tree farm -- 208 acres of which have earned them the statewide Outstanding Tree Farmer designation.

Rollie and Lois Spaniol have improved the quality of their woodlands by working with Illinois Department of Natural Resources foresters and professional forestry consultants. They and their family have taken advantage of products produced from trees grown on their property and have produced and sold mature timber. Nominators report that dozens of neighboring landowners in Coles County and throughout the region have been influenced and inspired to better forest stewardship by the Spaniols' example.

Illinois is home to 1,107 tree farmers managing 92,529 acres of forest land producing wood, wildlife and recreational benefits throughout the state.

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources
news release]

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